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July 2023 Bounty Hunter Plaintiff Claims

Logo for Prop 65 Pulse, a Keller and Heckman LLP newsletter, with imagery of a heart monitor and the outline of California


Exploring Trends in California’s Proposition 65: Claims, Chemicals, Products, and More

California’s Proposition 65 (“Prop. 65”), the Safe Drinking Water and Toxic Enforcement Act of 1986, requires, among other things, sellers of products to provide a “clear and reasonable warning” if use of the product results in a knowing and intentional exposure to one of more than 900 different chemicals “known to the State of California” to cause cancer or reproductive toxicity, which are included on The Proposition 65 List. For additional background information, see the Special Focus article, California's Proposition 65: A Regulatory Conundrum.

Because Prop. 65 permits enforcement of the law by private individuals (the so-called bounty hunter provision), this section of the statute has long been a source of significant claims and litigation in California. It has also gone a long way in helping to create a plaintiff’s bar that specializes in such lawsuits. This is because the statute allows recovery of attorney’s fees, in addition to the imposition of civil penalties as high as $2,500 per day per violation. Thus, the costs of litigation, and settlement, can be substantial.

The purpose of Keller and Heckman’s latest publication, Prop 65 Pulse, is to provide our readers with an idea of the ongoing trends in bounty hunter activity. 

In July of 2023, product manufacturers, distributors, and retailers were the targets of over 430 new Notices of Violation (“Notices”) and amended Notices, alleging a violation of Prop. 65 for failure to provide a warning for their products. This was based on the alleged presence of the following chemicals in these products. Noteworthy trends and categories from Notices sent in July 2023 are excerpted and discussed below. A complete list of Notices sent in July 2023 can be found on the California Attorney General’s website, located here: 60-Day Notice Search.

Food and Drug

Product Category Notice(s) Alleged Chemicals
Dietary Supplements: Notices include protein powder, pea protein, and prenatal vitamins 6 Notices Cadmium, Lead
Seafood: Notices include herring, ponyfish, squid, hilsa fish, clams, and various soups with seafood 30+ Notices Arsenic, Cadmium and Cadmium Compounds, Lead and Lead Compounds
Seaweed Products 11 Notices Arsenic, Cadmium and Cadmium Compounds, Lead and Lead Compounds
Pasta and Noodles 8 Notices Cadmium, Lead
Fruits and Vegetables: Notices include dried mushrooms, dried mango, dried papaya, grape leaves, capers and kiwi slices 25 Notices Lead and Lead Compounds
Chutneys, Moles, and Pastes 9 Notices Lead and Lead Compounds
Prepared Food: Notices include rice bowls, plant based snack pockets, and stews 5 Notices Cadmium, Lead

Cosmetics and Personal Care

Product Category Notice(s) Alleged Chemicals
Powdered Cosmetics: Notices include pressed powder, blush, bronzer, and eye shadow 9 Notices Titanium Dioxide (airborne, unbound particles of respirable size)

Consumer Products

Product Category Notice(s) Alleged Chemicals
Leather, Footwear, and Accessories: Notices include gloves and belts 12 Notices Chromium (hexavalent compounds)
Plastic Pouches, Bags, and Accessories: Notices include backpacks, bags, cases, handbags, wallets, organizers, mats, and other small consumer products 60+ Notices Di(2-ethylhexyl) Phthalate (DEHP), Diisononyl Phthalate (DINP)
Glassware and Ceramics: Notices include glassware ceramics with exterior designs 5 Notices Lead
Fishing Sinkers 15 Notices Lead

Soldering Wire

11 Notices Lead


Product Category Notice(s) Alleged Chemicals
Unleaded Gasoline 125+ Notices Unleaded Gasoline (wholly vaporized)

There are numerous defenses to Prop. 65 claims and proactive measures that industry can take prior to receiving a Prop. 65 Notice in the first place. Keller and Heckman attorneys have extensive experience in defense of Prop. 65 claims and in all aspects of Prop. 65 compliance and risk management. We provide tailored Prop. 65 services to a wide range of industries, including food and beverage, cosmetics and personal care, consumer products, chemical products, e-vapor and tobacco products, household products, plastics and rubber, and retail distribution.

To contact us with questions or for more information about California's Proposition 65, email or call our Washington, DC office at 202.434.4100 or our San Francisco office at 415.948.2800.